If you do not have much time to explore Bhutan but if you want to experience authentic Bhutan culture in one day then you got to try out Ugyen home stay at Haa Valley.
Bhutan itself is a slice of dropped heaven. And the journey to Haa valley is scenic, all along you will be accompanied by tall hemlocks, soaring mountains and crispy Air. Make sure that you stop at Chelela pass (Bhutan’s Highest Motorable Pass) to enjoy the grand view of Jumolhari Mountain and Paro valley.
Different people travel with different motives. I travel to discover a part of myself, part of the unexplored earth, to meet new people and understand their culture and to see the world through different eyes.
So to penetrate through their mystic culture, I wanted to include a home stay in our itinerary with local family. I did some research and finally decided to try out at Ugyen Home Stay at Haa and accordingly my tour operator Bhutan Best Inbound Tour did the needful.
Ugyen Village Homestay is located in the heart of the Haa valley under the silhouette of three Majestic Hills .
As soon as we reached , we were greeted by Mr. Ugyen, our host. He helped us to carry our baggage.Ugyen’s farmhouse is more than 200 years old and has survived seven generation. It is built in the traditional Bhutanese style typically seen all over Bhutan.
We were to take off the shoes before entering the house. The house was well maintained, very neat.It is an exceptionally large home displaying some fine features of days gone.
We were taken to our rooms; the room was immaculate; well polished and our beds were arranged on floor. The room was warm despite the harsh cold winter.There is an attached toilet with warm water flow but there is no shower facility. Never the less the amenities provided and available was much more than what I expected from a home stay. And the view of the mountains from our room was spectacular
We were asked to freshen up and later invited to their kitchen for tea.We were offered white tea. Bhutanese white milk tea is made in a unique way(Less sugar less tea leaves but lots of milk)and the local calls it Oja .And they do not offer you just a cup of tea but the flask of tea (5Ltrs), which the host keep on filling up your glass till you seriously say ‘No More’. And along with the tea they offer you some of the typical Bhutanese snacks like wheat flour,beaten rice and Zaw.
We have reached Haa just one day before Lolay( Haap’s New Year). The Kitchen was full of activities. Every one in the family were engaged in making of Hoentoe(Haap’s Dumpling). It was amazing to watch 3 generation of people happily involved in making of Hoentoe. And there was also a monk who was engage in making ritual cake
After the tea we went around to check out places. They have a small place dedicated for us to try out local archery match or Khuru. Mr. Ugyen owns 26 no of cows, 13 horses and 56 nos of Yak. So I teasingly told him that he is a rich man and his reply was ‘In today’s generation richness depends on account balance and not on no of cows’. Mr. Ugyen is friendly and lovable guy.
You can also try out milking cow or lend your hand in Butter or Tea making.
We also tried Herbal hot stone bath which was rejuvenating.
After the bath we were served typical Bhutanese Food which would be a good thing to try though many may not find it delicious. But we simply love it.Dried Pork,Dried Turnips,Ema Datshi, Ezay , butter tea,fried cheese has somehow blend in with our taste pallet.
As we were having the dinner ,Mr. Ugyen had lot of stories to tell .
We woke up with the crowing of the cock . It was 6 am but the activity of the day had already begun. We are not really a morning person but we somehow got up as we wanted to join Mr. Ugyen in milking the cow. My daughter really enjoyed it and it was something she has not seen before.It was soul enriching experience as it will not only help you to penetrate through Bhutanese Culture but will also give you an opportunity to see life through different aspect.
Haa Valley has many other things to offer other than home stay. Just outside Ugyen homestay, the Meri Punsum Walking trail begins. Another few minutes walk from the home stay will take you to White Temple and another 15 minutes will take you to black temple . There are lots of myths and history behind each temple.
Haa Valley is filled with mystery; the villages there reminds of the time gone and greenness everywhere. A beautiful place to visit where the earth meets the heaven.
Contributed by : Mr. Seal